In Siberia, Chinese demand for tusks fuels ‘mammoth’ rush

Mammoth bones are widespread in Yakutia, an enormous region bordering the Arctic Ocean covered by permafrost, which acts as a giant freezer for prehistoric fauna. But over the last few years this part of the world has experienced something of a mammoth rush: after China banned the import and sale of elephant ivory, its traditional carvers turned to the tusks of the elephants’ long-extinct ancestors.

Ice is a lifeline for the world’s coldest region

Yakutia, in northeastern Siberia, is Russia’s largest region and experiences the planet’s coldest temperatures, but for the inhabitants of this remote place, the cold isn’t an obstacle, it sustains their very lives. Braving -41 degrees Celsius, locals harvest ice to use as their only source of potable water as tap water is only available two and a half months of the year due to freezing pipes. With the cost of digging wells too high because of the thick permafrost that freezes the ground all year, the majority of the villages in Yakutia stick to the old ways of ice picks and frozen eyelashes.

With tiny Russian pensions, work for many never ends

From Siberia to central Russia and elsewhere, elderly people are often forced to work past retirement age to supplement their miserly state pensions. A new bill raising the state pension age by five years to 65 for men and 60 for women, which could be signed into law soon, has provoked a rare outburst of raw anger, as many Russian men do not live long enough to celebrate their sixtieth birthday.

Putin visits massive military drills in eastern Siberia

President Vladimir Putin visits Russia’s largest-ever military drills in eastern Siberia, where he said Moscow planned to strengthen the country’s armed forces.

Permafrost

Deep layers of frozen earth or permafrost lie packed beneath the Arctic and Siberia. Permafrost represents 25% of the Northern Hemisphere’s land mass. VIDEOGRAPHIC